News Release

Roadless Area Conservation Advisory Committee To Review State Petitions

Washington
August 16, 2006 -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service will convene the third meeting of the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee on August 30-31, 2006. The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice and recommendations to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on implementing the State Petitions for Inventoried Roadless Area Management Rule.

The 13-member committee will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sydney R. Yates Federal Building, 201 14th Street SW to review the latest petitions received from New Mexico and California. They may also review other petitions received before the meeting.

The committee's mission includes reviewing petitions submitted by states, seeking consensus, identifying issues and providing the Secretary with advice and recommendations on implementing the rule. The rule provides a process to give governors an opportunity to establish or adjust management requirements for National Forest System inventoried roadless areas within their states. Petitions will identify areas for inclusion, and may also incorporate ways to protect public health and safety, reduce wildfire risks to communities and critical wildlife habitat, maintain critical infrastructure, such as dams and utilities, and assure citizens access to private property. After a petition is received, the committee has 90 days to review and provide recommendations to the Secretary.

Once a state has developed and submitted its petition and the petition is accepted by the Secretary, the Forest Service will work with the state to develop and publish a subsequent state-specific rulemaking for inventoried Roadless areas. Together, they will address the management requirements proposed by the petitioning state. Each state-specific rulemaking will include the required National Environmental Policy Act analysis and public input during the notice and comment period.

If a state chooses not to file a petition, inventoried roadless areas within that state will continue to be managed in accordance with the direction set forth in each national forest's land and resource management plan. During the state-petitioning process, the Forest Service will continue to maintain interim measures to conserve inventoried roadless areas. USDA will be accepting state petitions until November 13, 2006. To-date, five states have submitted petitions.

The meeting will be held in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/roadless/